5 Conference Theme Trends of 2022 According to an Expert

What trends are at the heart of the keynote speaking industry heading into 2022? Mollie Plotkin shares her insight into the major themes companies should be aware of for this year's conferences.

Update: We are excited to announce that we have released our new conference theme trends of 2023.

Each year, we are asked about the new, hot conference themes. As we enter 2022, we want to share the trends we’ve seen and what changes are here to stay.

With Covid, the trend of virtual and hybrid events is here to stay. Luckily, this has flexibility and pricing benefits. Virtual speakers cost 20% to 30% less (plus you avoid travel costs). This is a plus for our hiring clients and an opportunity for organizations to bring out keynote speakers who previously may have been out of budget.

Buyer beware: Not all keynote presenters excel virtually. Make sure the person you hire can engage on screen as well as they do in person.

2. Diversity Equity and Inclusion

2021 saw a huge spike in requests for DEI & Ableism, Disruption, Cybersecurity and Wellness speakers. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a conference theme at the core of our industry. Presently, companies of all sizes are investing in DEI Officers to be part of their C-suite executives. Firms want to create purposeful DEI & Ableism dialogue. Look for speakers like Leslie Maxie, Homa Tavangar and Brittany Hale to flourish in 2022.

3. Disruption

With work-at-home orders and supply chain issues continuing, the topic of Disruption is very popular. Greg Offner, Matt Newman, and AK Ikwuakor are sought after for this topic. They have been helping people throughout the pandemic to embrace change and understand the positive impact disruption can have.

AK Ikwuakor at a conference
AK Ikwuakor giving a keynote speech

4. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity threats and gun violence have made international headlines. Living with these threats is not an “if” but a “when.”

Cybersecurity is important for every company, not just tech firms, making it one of the hot conference themes in 2022. Companies want to better understand how these threats happen. Even more, what they mean to their businesses and personal lives. Prashanth Challa is an amazing choice for companies looking for a cybersecurity expert. 

Jin Kim is the person people come to when they need to understand gun violence and active shooter preparedness in the workplace. As the leading Subject Matter Expert in active shooter and workplace violence risk management, Mr. Kim brings his experience as a twenty-three-year veteran of the FBI’s New York Division. He also served as the Active Shooter Coordinator on the Crisis Management Unit and was the leading authority directing active shooter risk mitigation & workplace violence prevention training for the FBI’s corporate programming and private sector partnerships.

Lastly, Wellness has been a hot trend for 3 years. 2018 and 2019 brought Wellness to the forefront of conferences. Starting in March 2020, mindfulness, gratitude practices, and exercise workshops went virtual. However, it’s a theme that is still growing strong.

5. The Return of the In-Person Conference

2022 will see an increased demand for in-person interactive conferences: Live keynotes, experiences with celebrity chefs, entertainment and team building exercises. Employee engagement is a key conference theme, whether in-person or virtual. 

Companies with work-at-home orders are increasing spending on employee engagement. This includes shipping gift tie-ins as part of the keynote experience. Still, audiences are craving more team building, motivational and inspirational keynote speakers.

Final Thoughts

With Covid, supply chain woes, and The Great Resignation, we see growing investment in engaging and entertaining speakers as a way to interact with employees, ease work related issues and engage clients alike.

Meetings will be planned on shorter notice. Flexibility will be key. Additionally, conference themes will be company specific, not just catered to industry issues. 

Finally, if you are having trouble finding the right keynote speaker, see How Meeting Planners Choose Keynote Speakers for valuable insights!

Want to find out more? Then read the Purplepass interview about planning events post-pandemic in 2022 with Mollie Plotkin.

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